Have you been injured on the job in Aventura? As reported by the National Safety Council, a worker in the U.S. is injured on the job every seven seconds, resulting in more than two million employer reports of injuries and illnesses in 2017 alone. If you’ve suffered a workplace accident or illness, you may have questions about the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney with experience in such claims can help you.
Workers’ Compensation Statistics
- The injury of one worker every seven seconds equates to 510 workers injured on the job every hour in the United States, the National Safety Council notes. Every week, there are about 86,500 workplace injuries.
- Workplace injuries and illnesses accounted for 104,000,000 production days lost in 2016.
- The most common injury resulting in lost work days is overexertion from lifting and lowering or repetitive motion. This accounted for 34 percent of workplace injuries. The two other most common injuries include contact with objects or equipment, and slips, trips, or falls. Both of these injuries were present in 25 percent of workplace injury reports.
- Service industry workers, including firefighters and police, have the highest numbers of injuries. Other occupations with large numbers of workforce injuries include transportation/shipping; manufacturing/production; installation, maintenance, and repair; and construction.
- There were 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016. It was the third consecutive year that the number of workplace fatalities increased, and the first time in almost a decade that the number of workplace fatalities surpassed 5,000.
- Transportation is the leading cause of death at the workplace, accounting for 40 percent of workplace deaths.
- Overdose fatalities at work have increased 25 percent each year since 2012.
- Truck drivers and drivers/sales workers have the highest number of workplace fatalities, followed by farmers/ranchers; grounds maintenance workers; construction and extraction first-line supervisors; and roofers.
- The overwhelming amount of workers killed on the job are male. Most are white and over the age of 35.
- Injuries are more likely among night shift workers, those with irregular shifts, rotating schedules, and long hours.
Florida’s Workers’ Comp Laws
Here is a brief overview of Florida workers’ comp laws, provided by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation:
- Most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees. The benefits serve as a wage replacement for employees who have suffered a workplace injury or illness. Workers’ compensation insurance is provided through the employee’s insurance carrier and injured workers may only receive treatments from medical providers that are authorized by the carrier.
- In addition to medical care coverage following a workplace injury, there are three types of benefits available to injured workers: temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), and impairment benefits. TTD benefits pay 66 2/3 percent of your weekly wage. TPD is 80 percent of the difference between the wages an individual received before the injury and what they’re able to earn post-injury.
- Most workers’ compensation claims must be made within 30 days following the injury. The hard deadline for filing petitions for benefits is two years.
- Once a compensation claim has been made to the employer via a Petition for Benefits, the employer has seven days to submit the claim to their insurance carrier. The insurance carrier has 14 days to either approve the benefits or file a response.
- Claimants are limited to benefits equaling no more than 100 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, or 66 2/3 percent of your weekly wages. The statewide average weekly wage, as of 2019, was $929.
- The statewide average weekly wage is calculated each year on June 30.
- Benefits begin on day 8 if your injury results in less than 22 days missed from work. For disabilities lasting more than 21 days, benefits begin on day 1.
- Individuals may only receive benefits for psychiatric claims that stem from physical injuries for six months.
- If a minor is legally employed and injured at the workplace, the damages that they are eligible to receive are double that of a claim from a legally employed adult.
- Workers’ compensation claimants are required to see only doctors that are authorized by the workers’ compensation insurance company.
- If your benefits are denied, you may still be able to receive compensation by filing a lawsuit against the workers’ compensation insurance company or any at-fault party who caused the workplace accident through negligent or reckless behavior. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can assist you in determining whether these actions are necessary in your case.
Common Workplace Injuries That Result in Claims
Workplace injuries vary widely, depending on what industry the injured individual was working in. According to the National Safety Council, the most common workplace injury is overexertion from lifting heavy objects or repetitive motion. However, there are many more injuries that can happen at the workplace, some of them serious or even life-threatening. Here is a list of some of the injuries we’ve seen with our workers’ compensation clients:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the hand and wrist through repetitive or awkward hand movements. It also can be caused by strong gripping, mechanical stress on the palm, and vibration.
- Back and neck injuries: Back and neck injuries are among the most common workplace injuries. Such injuries may include spinal cord injuries and bulging or herniated discs. It is important to report symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling in one or both arms promptly, in order to ensure that the right diagnostic tests are performed. Back and neck injuries involving the spinal cord can be life-altering or can even cause death in severe cases.
- Head and brain injuries: Most head and brain injuries that are caused on the job happen due to an object striking an employee in the head. Objects can include equipment, debris, or even the ground in the case of a fall from a structure. Employees coming into contact with objects is one of the most common ways for a workplace injury to occur.
- Hip and leg injuries: Workplace hip and leg injuries generally happen due to a fall. Such injuries can also be caused by having objects fall on the legs or work that requires a twisting of the legs in an unnatural manner.
- Rotator cuff and shoulder injuries: Although rotator cuff and shoulder injuries are more common with jobs that require heavy lifting, such injuries may occur in office settings, as well. These types of injuries often don’t show up on an X-ray, so it is important to carefully document and share with your medical provider the exact symptoms you have been experiencing.
- Catastrophic workplace injuries: A catastrophic work injury, as defined by state law, is one that leaves the employee totally and permanently disabled. The benefits available for Permanent Total Disability are among the most significant, with compensation easily climbing into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some examples of injuries that could results in permanent total disability include: spinal cord injuries involving paralysis of the arms, legs, or trunk; amputation of an arm, hand, or leg; severe brain injury that results in significant disturbances to the sensory, motor, speech, or cerebral function, severe neurological disorders, or other consequences that are equally severe as those outlined here; second or third degree burns over at least 25 percent of the body or third-degree burns over at least five percent of the face or hands; or total or industrial blindness.
- Work-related deaths: When an employee dies due to a workplace injury or illness, his or her family may be eligible to receive benefits, including up to $7,500 for funeral expenses, and monetary benefits based on the deceased’s average weekly wage. The benefits received may not exceed $150,000.
Florida Workers’ Comp in the News
According to a December, 2018, report from the Ledger, employees in Florida who use medical marijuana don’t have the same protections in the law as those from other states. While the drug is legal for medical purposes in Florida and 33 other states, it can cause an employee to fail a routine drug screening. Companies can reduce their workers’ compensation rates in Florida by implementing the federal drug-free workplace act. Part of that implementation includes screening job applicants—or even current employees, in some cases. A positive result can result in not being hired for the job or in being fired as a current employee. Even CBD oils produce trace amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that causes a drug test failure. The issue has prompted lawyers and medical marijuana users alike to urge Florida lawmakers to prevent hiring practices that discriminate against medical marijuana users.
A January, 2019, article from Work Comp stated that, after years of sky-high workers’ compensation rates, the horse racing industry in New York is finally seeing some relief. Racers and trainers must be covered under workers’ compensation policies, along with employees who help at the stable, including hot walkers and grooms. Workers’ compensation for those in the horse racing industry in New York can currently cost around one-quarter of a horseman’s payroll. By comparison, those in the horse racing industry in Florida pay about 10.8 percent of their payroll to compensate injured employees. Those in Arkansas can expect to pay about 5.46 percent.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Comp
Q: Do I have to hire an attorney in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits?
A: No, you don’t. However, having an experienced attorney on your side will help you understand not only the process, but could also help prevent you from making costly and time-consuming mistakes in your filing, which could result in a denial of your claim.
Q: Can I receive my workers’ compensation payments in one lump sum?
A: In many cases, you can negotiate with your employer’s insurance carrier to obtain your workers’ compensation benefits in one lump sum payment rather than in continuous payments. This is a situation to approach with extreme caution, however. Insurance companies like to save money whenever they can and may try to offer you a lump sum that is less than what you need in order to cover your medical expenses and make up for lost wages. Negotiating a settlement with the insurance company is something best left to an experienced attorney.
Q: I think I need surgery for my injury, but the insurance carrier has denied authorization of the procedure. What should I do?
A: You should get the help of an attorney who has experience with workers’ compensation issues. This attorney can provide guidance in completing a Petition for Benefits, requesting authorization of the surgery. The insurance carrier will then have 14 days to either authorize the procedure or to file a response.
Q: How long does the insurance carrier have to approve or deny my claim?
A: Under Florida law, your employer’s insurance carrier must render a decision on your claim within 120 days. This time period is built in so that if a carrier is uncertain as to its obligation to approve all benefits or compensation, it can begin an investigation as to whether or not the employee is legally entitled to receive this compensation.
Q: If the carrier disagrees with my diagnosis, do I have to seek a second opinion?
A: Yes. If your employer’s workers’ comp carrier requests a second opinion through the IME (independent medical examination) process, you must comply with that request or risk having your benefits reduced or even withdrawn.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Aventura
If you’ve suffered a workplace injury in Aventura, you probably have a lot of questions about the workers’ compensation process. Receiving compensation for workplace injuries or illnesses is a benefit guaranteed in law for most Florida employees. However, the process of filing for that benefit is often complex and fraught with deadlines and denials. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP can help you understand the process while providing you with the best chance to obtain the benefits you need in order to make a full recovery without worrying about lost wages or how you’re going to pay your medical expenses.
For more information about your workers’ comp claim, schedule a free consultation and case review by calling (954) 302-7068 or contact us online.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS
20807 Biscayne Boulevard Suite 100,
Aventura, FL 33180
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“So happy I chose Sibley Dolman!!! My experience with the law firm right from the start was fast, friendly and understanding. I started treatment for my injury right away, and while I was focusing on getting better the firm was fighting for me. Incredibly happy with the outcome, thank you to Brent and the team for all the hard work and updates.”
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